It all started from hashtag, Stefania & Veroncia – two young entrepreneurs from Vaughan, ON, were catapulted into success through a Kindness Challenge on Instagram in support of DIPG research honouring of Jordana Fiorini. The task was fairly simple, alike the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” this challenge encouraged participants to complete a random act of kindness and tag three friends to carry on the initiative. Veronica had already begun selling Wish Bracelets and donating the proceeds to The SickKids Foundation, so Stefania decided that she would sell bracelets until she accumulated a $500 donation and then donate those funds to Jordana’s DIPG research fund at SickKids as part of her act of kindness. With an overwhelming success within the first 24 hours (thanks to reposting by Jordana’s Rainbow, family & friends) Stefania & Veronica’s “little” project quickly became the basis for a successful business.
I was able to chat with Stefania & Veronica about the success of their business, Love & Above, and these sweet and humble girls have one specific mission, ” to make the world a kinder and more colourful place!”
CC:In a few short months you were able to generate over $20,000 to donate to SickKids Hospital on behalf of Jordana Fiorini’s DIPG research fund. Moving forward, how do you determine which Canadian charities align with your company’s mandate?
L&A: This is a great question. We are so open to hearing about and collaborating with registered Canadian charities to help generate funds. At this point in time we are working on collaborating with two additional organizations. We are always willing to hear about any organization that is willing to partner with us in our goal to make the world a kinder and more colorful place. Our only real criteria are that we can work together on making a product that both parties can be proud of and stand behind. Additionally, we appreciate the opportunity to maintain transparency in working with our partners, so that our customers can feel confident that we are doing exactly what we say we are with all our proceeds.
CC: Love & Above is a huge supporter of the Jordana Fiorini DIPG research fund, starting from one simple act of kindness from an Instagram challenge and catapulting into an enormous accomplishment – what was it that really made the two of you drawn to keeping Jordana’s memory alive?
L&A: When a friend approached us about participating in the Kindness Challenge, it was an immediate “yes” from both of us. The opportunity to do something creative for others and tag friends to participate seemed to be a beautiful way to remember Jordana. Since then, the Fiorini family has really welcomed us with opened arms and helped work with us to expand Love and Above. Jordana has become a household name for both of us and in many ways, we feel like we were connected to her and her family for a reason.
As our bracelets began to sell greater and greater quantities we grew closer to the Fiorini family, and made many amazing friendships at The SickKids Foundation. The people who knew Jordana have been so willing to share stories and memories of the spirited, colorful and empathic energy that is Jordana. In so many ways we feel like we know her, despite never having met. We both feel that Jordana was exceptional and that on some level, she has helped with our continued success.
CC: Recently, Love & Above has been questioned for “not making anything for boys,” your rebuttal to this question was inspirational, encouraging supporters to understand that these wish bracelets are offered in a variety of colours with the memory of Jordana Fiorini in mind. As an overall movement, how do you plan to face any other types of criticism?
L&A: We think the most important thing we can do is stay deeply connected with the causes we support. We know who we are and we know that our company vision is centered on kindness. We have received such incredible and heartwarming support, and we are endlessly grateful to our Love and Above family. I think we will continue to take all things in stride and trust that when we work together and dedicate our time and energy to our projects, we can accomplish some pretty incredible things.
CC: What is the biggest thing you have learned from each other?
STEFANIA :I think the biggest thing I have learned from Veronica is to slow down. I think that I am the type of person who thrives in high pressure situations, and that I really feel accomplished when I am productive. I think Veronica is a lot more careful and planned in her work. I think she has taught me that good work can take time and that it’s OK to give allow yourself that.
VERONICA: I think Stefania and I are very different but are able to balance each other out. We both bring different strengths to Love & Above and know that we couldn’t have done it without each other. Stefania has definitely taught me how to be a stronger person especially through tough times. This allowed me to discover who I was and gave me motivation to constantly do the things I love.
CC: Your Instagram posts are always so stylized and visually pleasing. How do you prep for instagram posts?
L&A: Trial and error! Veronica will never compromise on style for a quick Instagram post. She is very particular about lighting and backdrop, which can be so complicated, especially when we are both busy with other commitments for 40+ hours a week. In the winter, natural lighting isn’t always a possibility. We are always looking for beautiful props or pieces to integrate into our posts, and whenever we have a day off we are usually wandering around downtown Toronto trying to add to our collection.
CC: What advice do you have for others trying to make their mark as #creators?
STEFANIA: I would say, connect to your community, because people are attracted to positive energy. There is no way we would have been this successful if we hadn’t connected to a cause. We knew we had a beautiful product, but the message and the movement is so much greater. People want to be part of something bigger than just wearing a fashion accessory, they want to help. Love and Above is evidence of that. We would be lying if we said that either of us has an amazing business sense, that we are good with numbers or that we started with incredible resources. We were both open-minded and we were both willing to dedicate time and energy to something we believed in.
VERONICA: Anything is possible. Based on my personal career as a Junior Bridal Designer I was able to accomplish a lot as a recent fashion grad with a positive attitude and willingness to learn new things. I think learning is key, and always surround yourself with people who will teach you things. I am very critical on my work, but I never obsess about mistakes or where I could have done better. You have to have a good balance with your work and know at the end of the day you did your best and you should be proud of it.
CC: Okay, time for some fun questions. What three things can you not leave your home without?
STEFANIA: A pen and notebook/my agenda, if I don’t write it, I forget it, snacks, my computer!
VERONICA: snacks, headphones, iphone!
CC: What song do you currently have on repeat?
STEFANIA: Congratulations (feat. Quavo) – Post Malone
VERONICA: I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) – Jamie XX [feat. Young Thug & Popcaan]
For more information on projects Love & Above supports and works with or to purchase a wish bracelet click here.